Dec 17, 2007

Bush is Right: We Have Better Health Care Compared to "Other Systems in the World"

El Presidente is a gambler too! But, he's gambling with other people's lives & money.

I've been a gambler. I admit it. There was nothing I could do about it. The circumstances, you know, didn't allow me to stop gambling with my health, and I could not afford to stop. Either pay for grad school or for health insurance--that was my choice. I has hoping that I wouldn't get sick for a while. I was lucky. As you can imagine, I'm very sensitive to this issue of health care and the need for universal coverage. In an advanced country, I consider it a right not a privilege determined by price and available only to those who can buy it.

I’m going to tell you something — we have fabulous health care in America, just so you know. I think it’s very important — before people start griping about the health care system here — and of course there’s always grounds for complaint — just to compare it with other systems around the world.
President Bush, Fredericksburgh, VA (Dec. 17th, 2007)

He's right! The US ranks much higher in health care than most countries in the world. We're not in the top 10 though. Not in the top 20. Not in the top 30. Does it matter? After all, as Paul Krugman says the US health care "at its best, is the best." Does it matter that an estimated 47 million Americans don't have health insurance? Many more are under-insured. In 2005, the # 1 reason for personal bankruptcies was health care costs--and most of those people who filed for bankruptcy had health insurance but not enough coverage.

The World Health Organization ranked the US #37 among 191 countries in 2000. Do you think there's been an improvement since? Our own American Cancer Society says that there is a way to reduce cancer deaths in the US by half! Save more lives than all our expensive operations against the terrorists combined. How? By giving every person universal coverage that includes prevention & early detection! Is this too much to ask? Can we afford not to have it?

This is another important difference among the presidential candidates. The Democrats seem more sensitive to this issue. The Republicans want the marketplace (as if it hadn't had the opportunity already) to solve the problem. [Read between the lines: profit is more important than lives]. John Edwards has the best plan out there, and, for me, this is a very good reason to endorse him. I'm not one-issue voter, but health care weighs very heavily in my mind.

I don't want to hear about the threat of "European socialism" as the Repubs describe any sensible plan for universal coverage. Are the western democracies that have universal coverage less democratic than the US?!! Besides, what's wrong with a social program that promotes the general health of a nation? We do it here for our veterans, our senior citizens, with administrative costs around 3%, instead of 30% for the rest of the system!

Oh, I don't want to forget, our leaders in the US Congress, the White House, and in the high echelons of our government enjoy the best health care in the world! We pay for it. Is it socialized medicine for millionaires? Yes, I liked it very much when Edwards said he'd take away this coverage if Congress didn't pass a universal coverage plan. He's also said that you can't solve this huge mess by negotiating with the insurance companies as Hillary Clinton has suggested. I agree. Health care administration costs have to come way down, and profits shouldn't the result of denying coverage to people! This is a rather simple approach I think. It will take a fight to change the health care system in this country, and we should be involved in this--starting by electing a president who understands the need and the urgency of solving this problem.

Of course Bush can say that we have the best care in the world. It costs us 17% of GDP--way more per person than any other country! And, we get less. But other than that, we're number one--well, if you don't count those who can't afford any coverage and the under-insured. Eliminating demand does wonders.

Isn't insane to spend trillions on armaments, invading & occupying countries to keep our country "safe" from foreign threats while millions of Americans die unnecessarily, often not without prolonged suffering? When the doctors examined the First Colon and found pre-cancerous polyps and removed them, they likely saved Bush's life--because of preventive care, frequent checkups. Rudy is with us today and running for president because he could be tested early and treated for prostate cancer. A good thing? Why should the rest of us be gamblers?

It's feels nice to wave the flag and sing patriotic songs. But, for what kind of country are we rooting for? When we exalt our virtues, our values, our achievements, our greatness, shouldn't we recognize our problems too? There are 30 million Americans below the poverty line. There are almost twice as many (57 million) of the missing class as Catherine Newman describes them. [click on her name, it's worth reading/hearing what she has to say about this class]

But, what am I saying? I forgot. Compassionate conservatism is concerned with*[see footnote]. When two cells meet--life begins at conception (even earlier) they tell us. But after that point, the mother is on her own. Her children? On their own too. Poor families, heck, you know... If the children make it to 18, then they can enlist in the Armed Forces. No high school diploma (education) is necessary either. What a culture of life this is...

No, a civil society has a government in order to promote the commonwealth. To protect and empower the people. This is the measuring value. Is it not? But, this view is a progressive culture of life. Don't expect the same from those who see the government as the problem; a problem so big that they want to shrink our government so much as to "drown it in a bathtub" and therefore make it incapable of protection and empowerment!

* Every day, 10,000 young people get a sexually-transmitted disease in the US. But, according to some, condoms are worse! The Bush administration continue to promote anti-scientific and non-effective policies, while insisting on funding abstinence-only programs. Teenage & unintended pregnancy rates are also rising in the US.

It's time we focus more on the conservatives' illusion of being fiscally responsible. OK, Bush & Co mortgaged the future of our kids, but even the likes of Ron Paul and other economic hawks cost our society a great deal in financial terms. They disguise their budget cuts by shifting costs from the federal government to the states and the individuals. They also promote a system whereas saving some money today results in bigger expenses in the future (as discussed above).. .

The drawing is by one of my most favorite political cartoonists, Ted Rall (12/23/06)